Akiomi Kuroda is a photographer based on Tokyo, with domestic and overseas photo awards, working in the commercial and magazine field, also part of CAMERART. The following photos in this series were taken at his home. “I asked them to make themselves at home and just spent time together. My main concentration in this series is making them feel comfortable, so we are always talking during the shoot” shares Kuroda. In this series, Kuroda shows the private mood between the subject and the photographer as a fine art concept – something that usually goes unseen.
What approach do you take with your photography or what does photography mean to you?
Photography is like an evidence of my feelings. I express what I feel and what I think of my photography subject. I also put some of my feelings and expressions on a subject, like a kind of synergy. That generates a chemical reaction. I know photography was born as a tool of recording real life, like a documentary, and Leica is known for that type of photography mostly, but I use Leica because of other reasons I think. Leica is small and easy to communicate with models, this is the main reason why I use Leica, most of the time when I’m shooting, I am talking with models, and I steal their moments.
You describe this project as the opportunity to show the sense of trust between the models and the photographer, as well as the models’ inner beauty. How was the process of setting the stage for these models to feel more at ease and in a ‘comfortable’ environment so it wouldn’t looked staged?
There is no exact answer for this question, I think, because it relies on my personality which is a bit strange for a Japanese person. I do have some points that I care about. Of course I start a shoot by telling my models my concept, and I do not treat models like guests; I treat them like my old friends. Communication between us shouldn’t be like a photographer and a model. So I do not talk about photography with models, rather I ask them things like, “Did you know I am from outer space?”, or “I watched Magnolia last week, it was so good. You should watch!” or “Guess why I do not like tomatoes” etc… (Magnolia is a movie I like.) I believe that this kind of rather ordinary conversation allows them to be themselves; they do not need to pose.
The outcome of the images is really crisp and intimate. What was your set up like?
Crisp and intimate! That’s what I wanted to achieve in this series. Thanks to Leica gear, images are really crisp and clear, If you think of my series as intimate, perhaps it’s because I ask models to move really slowly during our session and not to pay attention or care about me pressing the shutter. This way I feel I can capture a moment of their beautiful hidden self.
Why is the Leica M ( Typ 262) your preference for this situation? Can you share your perception in terms of performance, maybe compared to other equipment?
Like the question above, Leica has a really crisp image, actually the sharpest camera and lens combination I’ve ever used. I also like the dynamic range of the Leica M ( Typ 262), since I tend to under-expose my photos, so this is an important point to me.
I really enjoy the bokeh and particularly the subtle transition between in-focus points and the bokeh of the Summilux. It makes my images dreamy. On the software side, I feel like there are perhaps some issues with white balance, but it can be easily fixed in the development process, so this is not such a big deal. I really think I should have bought a Leica earlier.
The portraits when the subject’s face is balanced and in the center, the depth of field you achieved around the cheeks and face is really notorious and beautiful. Any thoughts on this matter?
I care about the depth of field a lot. I aim for sharp eyes, well detailed skin texture and lips in my photos, so I chose my focus points and apertures based on that.
A rangefinder is really fast to focus compared to other manual focus systems. I don’t particularly like using auto focus cameras, since they tend to make noises that make the model pay attention to the fact that photos are being taken. In these situations, I prefer a rangefinder camera.
Going back to the concept of inner beauty, that image really reflects a sense of natural and implicit beauty, showing the model simply staring without any special makeup. Is there a specific trend in fashion photography going in this direction? What’s your perception?
The makeup and clothes in that image don’t represent a current fashion photography trend, I think. Here in Japan, the current style tends to be a film-like feel in my opinion. So I think this image is not based on a trend, rather this style is my preference. I don’t like foundation on a model’s skin, Because I do not want to rely on makeup in this series. She must behave naturally like she is relaxing at home. Nobody would wear strong makeup at home. This photo’s concept is that she just took a shower and is wearing PJs, which is why her hair is wet.
The two images above have a very cinematic look and feel to them, with a low color contrast and dark vignetting. What was your aesthetic objective here?
Not only this series, almost all images I take are based on my concept of “a moment of clarity.” I feel like we all have our own unique life and there will be moments where things just make sense, in other words, a moment of clarity. That’s what I want to express in my photography. When I see a still image of a movie, I can imagine the story behind the image. This is what I want people to feel when they look at my photos.
The images with the models in lingerie lying on the couch with the reflection of what seems to be window blinds or covers, shows an almost ‘underwater’ feeling, with a pool-like reflection, were you experimenting with this here?
This silhouette was created by a lace curtain in front of my window. The strong sunset created this silhouette on her skin. Although I thought it would be fun to capture some moments, the warm sunlight made her sleepy, but nevertheless it made her be natural at the same time.
Lastly, is there anything else you’d like to add for our readers to know? Maybe other projects you might be working on?
I have another other series, called “Persona Off” (You can see it on my portfolio website http://artratio.net). This series has a different concept on each image, and I am going to take more from this series as soon since I have some new ideas ☺